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What is the Fitness for Human Habitation act?

Introduced on 20 March 2019, this act requires all landlords in England (including letting agencies) to maintain their properties so they meet the minimum standard for human habitation at the beginning and for the duration of the tenancy.

The issues are those that deem the property to be unfit for habitation, to include damp, condensation mould,

leaks and “a lift that doesn’t work etc. A minor defect will not in itself make a property unfit, but if it causes a risk to health or safety, or undue inconvenience, then a property may be considered ‘unfit for human habitations ’

What is considered detrimental to the occupiers Health & Safety.

Category One Hazards

The rating system compares the risks associated with different types of hazards. It should be borne in mind that all types of homes contain inherent hazards such as stairs and electrical equipment. Category 1 hazards are those where the most serious harm outcome is identified, for example, death, permanent paralysis, permanent loss of consciousness, loss of a limb or serious fractures.

 The Hazards

There are 29 hazards and these have been arranged into 4 main groups reflecting the basic health requirements.

PHYSIOLOGICAL REQUIREMENTS

1. Damp and Mould Growth

2. Excess Cold

3. Excess Heat

4. Asbestos and manufactured mineral fibre

5. Biocides

6. Carbon Monoxide and flue combustion products

7. Lead

8. Radiation

9. Uncombusted fuel gas

10. Volatile Organic Compounds

PHYSCHOLOGICAL REQUIREMENTS

11. Crowding and Space

12. Entry by intruders

13. Lighting

14. Noise

PROTECTION AGAINST INFECTIONS

15. Domestic hygiene, pests and refuse

16. Food Safety

17. Personal Hygiene, sanitation and drainage

18. Water supply

PROTECTION AGAINST ACCIDENTS

19. Falls associated with baths etc

20. Falls on level surfaces

21. Falls on stairs or steps

22. Falls between levels

23. Electrical hazards

24. Fire

25. Hot surfaces

26. Collision and entrapment

27. Explosions

28. Ergonomics- position and use of amenities

29. Structural collapse and falling elements

WHAT IS CONSIDERED “UNSANITARY CONDITIONS” IN THE HOME?

generally speaking, these definitions might include but are not limited to: 

  • excessive dirt or filth in the home
  • improper building construction or poor maintenance of living quarters
  • buildup of animal or human waste
  • insect and/or vermin infestations
  • non-functional utilities such as water, gas, or electricity
  • broken appliances such as furnaces and stoves. 

Depending on the situation, it may take just one or several of these unsanitary conditions to create a situation where a property is deemed unsafe, and thereby uninhabitable. However, the two situations — unsanitary and uninhabitable — are not exclusive. For instance, a residence with a malfunctioning furnace during the colder months could be deemed uninhabitable but not unsanitary; alternatively, a home with a poorly maintained roof or foundation that leaves openings for mildew, rodents, and insects to infest the home, could be both unsafe and uninhabitable

But how can a landlord be sure that tenants are upholding their side of the tenancy, and how can a landlord know if damp is created by bad ventilation and not through building problems?“It’s important that a thorough inspection is undertaken before the tenancy has begun, and that the tenant is presented with the inspection and agrees with its contents by signing the inventory

Under the new dampness habitation law, it would be wise for landlords and agents to have a sheet outlining damp preventing tips for tenants, along with their ‘How to Rent’ guide. This is something Carrick Johnson Lettings do as a matter of course.

We also advise landlords to keep copies of all letters regarding our tenant inspections and correspondence regarding property problems, as they can be used as proof of repair and maintenance in court.”